A donor:  Over thirty years ago, my wife, Mary, and I placed a conservation easement on our property. At the time, we looked at the easement as a gift of protection to the various habitats on our farm. Over the years, however, we became aware of another aspect of our action. In essence, we were giving a gift of protection to all of our neighbors…. Several of them have expressed their gratitude by volunteering time and equipment to work on the Trust’s trail system or by showing up at our door with a bottle of (really good!) red wine as a way of thanking us for allowing them to hunt on our farm. I’d like to think that such gratitude is common among the neighbors of all 5400 acres the Trust either owns or on which it holds conservation easements. 

A volunteer: Roberts Farm is a place I love to go to and use for recreational purposes—getting others out there to do the same is logical, and doing it from Brooklyn via social media is the best way I can help WFLT. The benefit to me and my family (especially my kids as they get older) far outweighs the cost of volunteering. 

An event participant: So much fun, even with the wind chill. Can’t wait for the first one on skis! 

The Western Foothills Land Trust was founded in 1987 to conserve and protect native ecosystems, farm and forestlands, watersheds, and scenic landscapes for the benefit of wild and human communities in the greater Oxford Hills area of Western Maine. It protects over 5,600 acres of land in a 10-town area and is a member of the Maine Land Trust Network and the national Land Trust Alliance.   

Today the Trust holds five conservation easements (i.e., permanent restrictions on the use of designated property) on privately owned lands (3,615 acres) and owns four Preserves in the region (1,856 acres), including Roberts Farm Preserve (165 acres) in Norway, Shepard’s Farm Preserve (20 acres) in Norway, Virgil Parris Forest (1,250 acres) in Buckfield, Witt Swamp Preserve (141 acres) in Norway. The trust also manages recreation trails on its Preserves and organizes events and activities to promote healthy uses and appreciation of these community resources. 

Volunteers are critical to helping the Trust fulfill its mission. They include board directors, trail builders, groomers, event coordinators, web designers, hut hosts, and yes, social media volunteers. 

Western Foothills Land Trust organizes seasonal fund raising events and educational programs as well as hikes to encourage area residents and visitors to support and enjoy property the Land Trust oversees and owns.  Fund raising programs include cross country ski and snowshoe events, bird walks, canine-cross races, fungi walks, and the annual Norway Triathlon in July. The Mellie Dunham Shoe and String Festival in February, celebrates Norway’s history as a manufacturer of snowshoes, with lectures, exhibits, games and dance. Check the Land Trust’s website for upcoming events and activities. 

Looking to the future, the Land Trust is collaborating with several other land trusts to increase public awareness of the Crooked River and to protect working forestlands within the Crooked River watershed. Related to the vision for the school farm program at Roberts Farm Preserve, the Trust is also collaborating with area non profits involved with protecting working farmland, food production, food distribution and education.   

Western Foothills Land Trust
443 Main Street
Norway, ME 04268
(207) 739-2124 

Lee Dassler, Executive Director
wflt@megalink.net
www.wfltmaine.org